Parent's Guide to Surviving a Disney World Vacation

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Disney is one of the most magical places on Earth, or so they say. Try spending seven or so days with kids under the age of 10 and let me know if the experience is still magical.

Yea, I'm speaking from personal experience. While Disney is a magical place, it does comes with its downsides. And, as a parent, those downsides are usually related to the temperament of your kids or yourself, believe it or not.

Despite all that you've read or heard about Disney, the experience does create life-long memories for both the kids and the parents. However, there are some simple things you can do to help make your experience somewhat sane — tips that can help parents get through the Disney World experience without wanting to pull their hair out or strangle one of the characters.

Take Physical and Mental Breaks
Disney is a working vacation. The place is massive and if you're attending for the first time, there's no way you're going to see the entire place in seven days. This, of course, means that you'll spend those seven days packing in as much activity as possible, which will then result in mental and physical fatigue. There's a ton of walking and a ton of waiting in line, which weighs your down mentally.

As a result, it's critically important to take breaks as much as possible. Take a seat, relax and chill out. If you're dead tired, you're kids are even more tired. Believe me.

Pack Snacks
Food is an essential part of the Disney experience. Why? Well, it fuels your drive. You're so busy running around to attractions and shows that you forget to eat. While an adult can get by, kids can't. You should know your kids eating habits and tell-tale signs that they are hungry. Bring enough snacks to keep them fueled throughout the day.

Strollers are Life Savers
If you want to lug around your own stroller, by all means do so. Renting one, while expensive, is just as critical as bringing your own. If your kids are small enough, be sure to have stroller in tow because the less walking they do, the quicker you can move around the park and the less tired they'll get. Trust me on this one. The last thing you want to do is carry your kid around or hold them while waiting 45 minutes in line for a ride.

Plan Off Days
As a said, Disney is a working vacation, especially if you've never been there before. Be sure to build in an off day or two where you can take the kids to the pool and just have some fun in the sun. It'll energize the kids and will break the monotony of waiting in those long lines.

Go with Friends or Family
The experience is so much nicer when you travel with friends or family. You'll need your alone time at the pool, at the bar or just out on the balcony smoking a stogie. After all that time with the kids, walking around, listening to whining and crying, you'll need some adult time (not to mention it's nice for the kids to have other kids to play with).

However, pick and choose who you travel with very seriously because Disney is a high pressured vacation and adults will have their breakdowns and moments of insanity. People snap and more often than not, it happens in Disney mostly because of endless walking and waiting in line. That aggravation grows on you like a pimple on your ass. It's there. You can feel it and there's really nothing you can do about it but wait for it to pop.

Bonus Tip
Regardless of what you think of personal hygiene, load up on the deodorant and do yourself a big favor, go to Costco, Target, Walgreens or wherever you can buy items if massive quantities and get yourself a family sized thing of Gold Bond. No explanation needed for this purchase, but you'll thank me for the tip later.

If you're a parent, have been to Disney with your kids, how do you survive the week?

Article first published as Parent's Guide to Surviving a Disney World Vacation on Technorati.